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Ko wai mātou

Our people

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Te Rakau_2019_Tabitha Arthur Photography_hr--5.jpg

Jim Moriarty MNZM

Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Kahungungu, Rangitane, Scots, Norwegian, Italian


Jim is co-founder and rangatira on the paepae auaha of Te Rākau Hua O Te Wao Tapu Trust. He and the company have been creating Theatre as a tool for change since 1989.

A veteran television, film and radio actor with nearly 50 years of professional experience, Jim was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2001 for Services to the Arts. In 2011 was recognised by the Wellington City Council for his contribution to Wellington Theatre and his work with youth in the community.

His stage and screen roles have been many and varied, and include Close to Home (1975-83), Death of The Land (1978), Michael James Manaia (1994), Saving Grace (1997), The Strength of Water (2009), and Mahana (2016). In 2019 his epic four-part theatre project UNDERTOW screened on Māori Television.

Jim’s leadership of Te Rākau and commitment to theatre as a tool for change, combined with his experience as a registered psychiatric nurse, his skills as a performer and a director, and his dedication and aroha for those he works with has helped train and develop a huge number of theatre practitioners and well as change the lives of many of this country’s most vulnerable people.

'Jim Moriarty may never win an Oscar or get a knighthood for his contribution to the arts, but he is exactly the kind of guy who should.'

- Lynne Freeman, Capital Times

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Helen Pearse-Otene MA, PhD

Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Kuri, Ngāti Ruanui

KAItuhi | writer

Helen is a registered, practicing psychologist, theatre practitioner, veterans advocate, and researcher. Her work as a writer and facilitator has formed the heart of Te Rākau Theatre's creative work since 1999.


A compelling and eloquent writer, Helen's profoundly well-researched plays weave history and imagination to tell stories that are integral to the fabric of Aotearoa culture and society. 

Helen is a graduate of Victoria University of Wellington, Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School, and Massey University where she gained her PhD in Psychology in 2022. ​

Helen engages with Aotearoa’s bicultural history and our place in the world through a unique blend of captivating characters, gripping narratives, emotional pathos and witty humour.

Critics have called her work “mythical, magical – and majestic." They have found her writing “exquisite”, “uncompromising”, “stirring”, “richly textured, insightful, humorous, sobering and energising." ​Helen’s plays in performance have consistently garnered standing ovations and ‘must-see’ status.

'She is a consummate dramatist whose work is, I believe, destined for classical status.'

- John Smythe, Theatreview

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Lisa Maule B.Des., B.A., M.P.M


KAIwhakahaere kaupapa | Producer and Project Manager

Lisa is an award-winning lighting designer of English and Scottish heritage. She grew up in Karori, Te Whanganui-a-Tara which is where she lives now.


Lisa started out with BATS and Taki Rua Theatre in the 1990s, working as a technician with Red Mole and Magdalena Aotearoa to name a few.


Since then she has worked as a producer, lighting and set designer, educator and researcher of performing arts, and is well-known for nearly a decade of teaching technical and management courses at Toi Whakaari: The New Zealand Drama School.

Lisa received a Master of Public Management from Victoria University of Wellington in 2018, where her final project was based on participatory research while working with Te Rākau on the theatre series, Undertow.

Lisa brings her investment in social justice and creative practice, and a keen ability to facilitate and hold process, to her role as Kaiwhakahaere Kaupapa at Te Rākau.

'The creative mahi of Lisa Maule...must be acknowledged...Pivotal props are illuminated by her subtle touch.' 

- theatreview 

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